Letter to the Liberal Party of Canada on Electoral Reform

This is the letter I just sent to the Liberal Party on the topic of electoral reform (yes, it’s still on their website). They aren’t convinced Canadians care about it. I care. Leave your thoughts: liberal.ca/contact or email assistance@liberal.ca (or write a letter/call, if those are your jam).


I’m a young person, and I registered as a Liberal at the beginning of 2016 because I really liked what I saw the Liberal Party doing after winning the last federal election. I’m probably not going to write a letter to my MP (firstly, because I live in Ottawa-Vanier and we sadly lost our MP earlier this year). However, I do feel very strongly that electoral reform needs to be brought to the table again.

I’ve been hearing news recently saying that Liberals will only continue to push the issue of reform if the public still cares. Well, I still care. I voted Liberal because I have progressive views that align well with those of the party, and one of those views was the fact that first-past-the-post doesn’t lead to representative government. Many NDP voters sided with you not because they agree with your platform 100%, but because the left needed to align to get Stephen Harper’s conservatives out of office.

While the current system did work to get your MPs elected, it’s a broken system. Even giving a ranked ballot system (like single transferable vote) will let the people show a strong desire for change, but without forcing them to choose between two parties in a system to actually get a resulting majority.

This is really important to myself, my friends, and my family. We’re all very busy and have entrusted you with governance for the next few years, so you might not be hearing a lot about this issue from Canadians today. I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention, but another broken electoral system just elected a demagogic sexist right next door earlier this month. We want reform, not because we want you out of power, but because the best electoral system is one that doesn’t necessarily restrict choices or lead to relatively unrepresentative leadership.

Other than this issue, I think you’re doing a lot of great work so far. Thank you very much.

Robert

The “Your Child” Test (Society is Changing, Part 2)

This is the second section of a multi-part piece I’ve been thinking a lot about, which I’m calling ‘Society is Changing’. You can read part 1 here, which will provide some context for this section.

There has been a ton of energy, brainpower, blood, sweat and tears that has gone into political movements throughout history. As has happened many times in the past, several places in the world seem to have come up against particularly challenging political climates of late. Ideological conflicts like Brexit and the 2016 American election, in addition to armed physical conflicts like the battles raging in several parts of the Middle East, point to the notion that civilization might just be approaching an ideological inflection point.

At times like these, it can be disheartening to see and hear that about half of your country or region seems to hold such rigidly opposed views to yours. In part one of this story, I discussed how ‘society’ as city folk like me see it is changing, in ways that rural Christian communities 50 years ago would see as unacceptable and sinful. It’s absolutely vital to understanding modern politics that those rural communities still exist today, and many of those same beliefs are still firmly held.

Those voters have watched Democrats (for the last eight years in the US) shred some of what they consider to be sacred tenets of their belief system. It’s only natural that those voters would be scared about what might happen, especially as their elected officials have been spouting nonsense about racial minorities ‘taking over’ and the government ‘coming for your guns’.

There’s a lot more to say about the ways society is changing to become more divided, but for the rest of this piece I want to focus on a principle I’ve been thinking a lot about this year. I’ve been calling it the ‘Your Child’ test, and it works a little something like this:

Before you judge somebody, consider how you would feel about them if they were your child.

Give them the absolute benefit of the doubt before criticizing or attacking them. Ask questions to make sure you understand their point of view. If your child wants to do something you disagree with, have an open mind and talk about it. The same should be true for any other human, because we’re all just people.

We all have to share the space on this earth, and we have for the most part agreed on a set of basic human rights (life, fresh water, access to food, to name a few). Taking those as a given, if you’re not hurting anybody, I think most other ideas should be up for discussion.

Imagine if your child told you they wanted to convert to Islam.

Imagine if your child told you they were gay.

Imagine if your child told you they didn’t feel comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Imagine your child’s skin looked different than yours. Would that really make you love them less?

Humans make a lot of mistakes. We are inherently flawed. This doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to be loved and treated with respect like anybody else. In this divisive time, I’d encourage you to think about how you’d react to your child in a given situation. I’ll bet if we all did this, trading in judgment for compassion, we’d all be a lot happier together.